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Analysis & Opinion
01.09.08 A Council Of The Offended
By Dmitry Babich

"Sanctions are being considered, as are many other measures," the French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said. He had earlier claimed that sanctions against Moscow were not on the agenda. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov expressed dissatisfaction with some of Kouchner’s other recent statements.

"Besides sanctions, he also said we will attack Ukraine, Moldova and the Crimea. This is diseased imagination," Lavrov said.

But Kouchner told Europe 1 radio that "France does not have a diseased imagination. France was part of the events in Georgia and in Russia, where it fulfilled its work as the European Union president. We do not want to halt the dialogue with Russia, absolutely not, and France does not propose introducing sanctions. The Russians are a bit nervous lately," he added.

According to sources inside EU headquarters, there are two variants of dealing with Russia in future. The first, a “tough” one, is lobbied by Great Britain, Poland and some other East European nations. According to it, the EU should indeed impose economic sanctions on Russia. The second one, supported by Italy and probably some members of the German delegation, speaks for “moral condemnation,” but stops short of imposing sanctions.
So far, the only definite proposal was heard from Great Britain, which suggested that the EU cancels negotiations with Russia on the new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), which is due to replace the old one signed in 1994 and ratified in 1997. The old treaty was already extended once for a year in 2007, due to a Polish veto on negotiations with Russia.

Russian experts do not expect the cancelation of negotiations to do a lot of harm to Russia, since the chances of this treaty getting signed any time soon are already minimal.

“The new PCA will have to first be formulated, then signed, and only afterward ratified by the parliaments of all 27 member states,” said Sergei Karaganov, the head of the influential Council on Foreign and Defense Policy (SVOP). “I don’t expect the parliaments of Poland or Baltic countries to ratify it soon, even if Russia fulfills all of the EU’s demands.”

Russia, on its side, came out with the initiative of imposing an arms embargo on Georgia, to prevent it from launching another attack against South Ossetia, as it did on August 7-8 this year, kick-starting hostilities in which the Russian army got involved.

“We have strong reasons to suspect that NATO warships, which come in increasing numbers to the Black Sea, unload not just humanitarian aid in Georgia, but also arms and munitions,” said Andrei Nikonenko, an official representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs at a briefing at RIA Novosti on Monday. “We have seen the Georgian forces and police regrouping around the territory of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Rearming the Georgian regime and helping it to brace up for another attack is immoral.”

Russia’s position gained unexpected backing from the Georgian authorities, which acknowledged using cluster bombs in South Ossetia on August 7-8. The announcement was made via Human Rights Watch representatives.
In this situation, Russia does not seem to be afraid of sanctions, even if the decision to use them will be adopted in Brussels. “The language of sanctions dates back to the last century,” Nikonenko said. “From recent history we know many examples when sanctions were used against the governments which somehow fell out of favor with the most powerful countries of today’s world. These sanctions never led to anything good.”
The source
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